Auto accidents happen in a split second and the consequences can last a lifetime. Someone has to be held accountable and in most car accident cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance company pays for the damages. This is why it is crucial to establish liability in an accident.
When it comes to establishing facts about an accident, lots of parties will appear to be at fault and everyone will be looking for different reasons for fault. Additionally, not everyone will view the facts the same way. You, therefore, need to know who will be determining fault and how their decision will impact your case.
Massachusetts is a no-fault state. This means that your insurer is required to provide Personal Injury Protection on your insurance policy. The cover will pay for your medical bills and other damages regardless of who is at fault. However, despite the fact that your insurer will cover your medical expenses, the car accident can still impact your finances in form of increased insurance premiums.
We are going to look at how different parties determine fault in car accidents and why you need to speak to a qualified car accident lawyer in Fall River, MA.
How the Police Determine Car Accident Liability
In most car accidents, the first people to arrive at the scene is the police. Their first task is to ensure that everybody involved in the car accident is safe. They will move them out of harm’s way and also make sure that paramedics are on the way. They will also generate a police report.
Every year in the United States, car accident claims are filed and the common factor in these claims is that the driver was negligent. Traffic citations and police reports can provide powerful evidence that can help you prove liability and to win a larger settlement.
How to Work with Law Enforcement at the Car Accident Scene
While you are waiting for the police to arrive at the accident scene, you need to pay attention to your surroundings. You might just pick up on some valuable information that you can give to the police officer. Important information that you should take note of includes:
- How many people are in the other car and if they switch seats at any point after the accident
- If any of the occupants leave the scene of the accident
- Any statements the other driver makes especially the ones where they admit fault
- How the other driver behaves and their attitude
- If they move the car or any debris from the accident.
When the police arrive, they are authorized to:
- Make arrests
- Conduct sobriety tests
- Collect evidence and use it to determine fault
- Secure the accident scene and block traffick
- Issue citations
- Work with emergency services
Generating a police report is a great responsibility and police officers take the job seriously. They are well trained to write accurate and clear reports. They can analyze the accident scene, listen to witness statements and use that information to draw a conclusion about which driver was at fault. Below are some factors that can help a police officer determine fault:
- The drivers were under the influence of alcohol and, or other drugs
- One of the drivers was engaging in reckless driving such as overspeeding
- One of the drivers was engaging in distracted driving such as texting while driving
- Presumption of fault. This means that the law assigns fault when certain factors are present. For instance, if you were involved in a rear-end collision, the law presumes that the driver in the rear end was at fault. However, it is possible to introduce evidence in a courtroom that shows the presumption of fault does not apply in your car accident case.
Once the police have determined fault, you can use the police report to show fault in your car accident case. Your insurer and the court can use the police report as well.
How Car Insurance Companies Determine Liability
Insurance adjusters will first check the police report as soon as they get notified of the car accident claim. However, they will still make their own determination of fault because they are protecting their bottom line.
They will first look for evidence to prove that you were not at fault for the accident in the event that the other driver makes a claim from them. They may also look for a number of reasons to deny your claim.
As part of their process for collecting evidence, they might decide to get a statement from you about what happened. They will ask for evidence of your injuries, property damage, car damage, and medical expenses.
We advise against giving out a recorded statement to your insurer without the advice of your auto accident lawyer in Fall River, MA. They might use your statement against you or they might try to make you look like you are lying.
How Lawsuits Determine Liability
In case you cannot reach a settlement with your insurer, you might have to file a lawsuit with the help of an auto accident attorney in Fall River. There are two ways a lawsuit can determine liability:
- Through a bench trial. This is whereby you appear before a judge without a jury.
- A jury trial
You should consult your auto accident attorney before submitting your case for a summary determination in front of a judge. At the end of the day, the jury or the judge will make a judgement that is legally binding and award damages based on the findings of the judgement.
The judge and the jury will consider the evidence presented and will request testimony from you and all the other parties involved. In some cases, accident reconstruction experts, among other expert witnesses might be called to give their testimony.
Speak to a Qualified Auto Accident Attorney in Fall River, MA
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident in Fall River, MA, don’t delay speaking to one of our qualified auto accident attorneys. Contact us at 508-676-0001 to schedule your free initial consultation.